History teaches us that the past is never forgotten

History teaches us that the past is never forgotten

Some modern airguns with their roots in the 19th century

By Dennis Adler

As a handgun owner, long before I began writing about handguns as an occasional columnist for Guns & Ammo over 20 years ago, back when Garry James was editor, my interests were mainly historic firearms, (same as Garry), and that is what I wrote about in G&A, as well as in my first gun book, published in 1998, on the history of Colt’s 2nd and 3rd generation black powder guns. A dozen gun books later, on subjects as varied as Winchester shotguns, guns of the Civil War, guns of the American West, cartridge conversions of Civil War era black powder guns, and the history of the Colt’s Patent Fire-Arms Mfg. Co., my interests have never changed; so in my mind, modern handguns are essential to modern times, but historic guns are quintessential to handgun history, and to a great extent, American history. read more


Umarex 850 M2 Part 4

Umarex 850 M2 Part 4

Latest evolution of a classic Hammerli air rifle

By Dennis Adler

After my initial tests with the 2×12 gr. adapter, which delivered a solid 100 shots with the paired 12 gr. cartridges, I made the swap to a standard Umarex 88 gr. CO2 cylinder.

In CO2 air rifles there are not many you can confidently shoot at 25 yards, at which distance you are either shooting for precision (with open sights or with a scope) or small game hunting. Today, the test is precision with open sights on a 25 yard timed and rapid fire pistol target, which suits my purposes here, to place as many shots in the bullseye as possible, a bullseye with a diameter of 1.625 inches; this is a little more than half an inch greater than the kill zone on most small game with a .22 caliber air rifle of this power. If you can shoot consistently with the .22 Umarex 850 M2 on this target, you can expect to do well with it in the field. read more


Umarex 850 M2 Part 3

Umarex 850 M2 Part 3

Latest evolution of a classic Hammerli air rifle

By Dennis Adler

Today’s tests of the Umarex 850 M2 will be at 10 meters to compare earlier tests with 88 gram air rifles. It will provide a baseline for further comparisons, and as many readers do not have the option of shooting beyond 10 meters without going to a shooting range, this is good place to begin.

Most of the 88 gr. CO2 rifles I have tested over the years have been modern tactical designs like the Beretta CX-4 Storm and Sig Sauer MCX, with the one exception being the Walther Lever Action Rifle. Most all the range tests of pellet-firing, 88 gr. CO2 rifles have been shot at 10 meters, the Walther again being the one exception, as it was also tested at 15 yards because it could maintain tight groups with open sights at that extended range.

Back in 2016 I did a series of articles on the Umarex Walther Lever Action Rifle, still one of the most expensive CO2 models on the market with a price around $460. With a design copied from 1890’s era Winchesters, the Walther is powered by an 88 gr. CO2 cylinder loaded into the stock. This was the first 88 gr. CO2 rifle I had ever tested and being a great fan of western guns remained a favorite because of its ability to accurately shoot .177 pellets from a rotary magazine.
The tests back in 2016 were shot from a measured distance of 10 meters and again at 15 meters from the target. The best accuracy for 8 rounds measured 0.75 inches at 10 meters, and 1.22 inches from 15 meters. Average 8-shot groups were 1.95 inches from 15 meters and 1.1 inches at 10 meters. Overall it was easy to keep groups clustered under 2 inches at POA from either distance.

The others, regardless of velocity or optics, were really best suited to shooting at 10 meters. The 850 M2, however, falls more into comparative shooting against a precharged pneumatic like the Air Venturi Seneca Aspen. read more


Umarex 850 M2 Part 2

Umarex 850 M2 Part 2

Latest evolution of a classic Hammerli air rifle

By Dennis Adler

The biggest advantage to the short Picatinny rails on the forend of the 850 M2 is the bottom rail, which makes it possible to mount a bipod like this UTG 28ST.

Air rifles that are not copies of semi-auto or select-fire rifles are a different breed of airgun than I usually cover in Airgun Experience and the few exceptions, like the Air Venturi Seneca Aspen, have been impressive new designs. The Umarex 850 M2 is neither new nor technically impressive but rather familiar and welcomed because it continues a design by Hammerli that was always well liked by air rifle enthusiasts. The handful of improvements the M2 brings to the design are almost inconsequential for general sport shooting, but each adds to the versatility of the gun for target and precision shooting. With the addition of the short Picatinny rails around the forearm adding a UTG 28ST bipod (or any rail-mounting bipod) takes the 850 into new territory for target work. Combined with a good scope, the 850 in .22 caliber is a much more capable air rifle than its predecessor. read more


Umarex 850 M2 Part 1

Umarex 850 M2 Part 1

Latest evolution of a classic Hammerli air rifle

By Dennis Adler

The new Umarex 850 M2 is the next generation of the popular Hammerli 850 Air Magnum built in 2007. The original model was introduced following the merger of Hammerli and Umarex in 2006. The M2 retains classic sporting rifle lines with an all-weather synthetic Monte Carlo stock.

Hammerli is one of the oldest armsmakers in the world, established in 1863 and renown for quality target rifles and target pistols beginning in the 19th century, as well as airguns (rifles and pistols beginning in the late 1950s) for target shooting and competition, including Olympic level .22 caliber rimfire and 10 meter airgun. In 2006 the historic Swiss Armsmaker became part of the Umarex group in Germany, and combined with Carl Walther, (which merged with Umarex in 1993), the Hammerli helped form the basis for the Umarex group we see today, and models built by Umarex in Germany that have the foundation of their designs in guns originally built in Switzerland by Hammerli. The new Umarex 850 M2 is an updated version of the original Hammerli 850 Air Magnum, one of the more powerful and successful CO2 air rifles capable of performance that is almost up to the standards of some .177 and .22 caliber precharged pneumatics. The 850 was an impressive Hammerli model (built by Umarex), and becomes more impressive in its new M2 form in 2020. read more


Why tan guns have great appeal

Why tan guns have great appeal

Because guns used to be blue

By Dennis Adler

Fifty shades of tan…the color is not the same on every gun that is listed as FDE, coyote tan, or desert tan, or just tan. Tan often isn’t even the same shade on the same gun. And that is part of what makes them interesting.

If you collect old guns, 19th century guns, most will be blued (or were at one time), others might be nickel plated, but the vast majority, well into the 20th century were blued. It is an old process that Samuel Colt (among others) refined in the early to mid 19th century. Go back another century and you won’t find many blued guns, you will find instead browned guns, an even older process that was so common in the 1700s’s that the famous Revolutionary War British musket, the “Brown Bess,” was named after its finish (or so the story goes). Browned Damascus barrels on shotguns and pistols were revered for their beauty, but bluing became the dominant finish intended to prevent rust. Rust was and will always be the nemesis of gun barrels, frames (except of course, newer polymer frames), and parts made from steel, iron or other metals, except aluminum and aluminum alloys, and thus you will not often encounter rust with a modern air pistol, except those which use steel in their composition. Bluing is, in fact, a controlled rust process that is stopped and treated, creating a protective layer over the metal. But time wears everything down and bluing wears away. That is why old guns that have not been well cared for (or reblued) have faded worn finishes and the worst, have pitting from rust. read more


Retrospect Series Part 9 – M&P 45

Retrospect Series Part 9 – M&P 45

The display rack gun takes on the Uber-pistols

By Dennis Adler

There is a pretty good span of time separating these three CO2 pellet models, yet they share very much the same internal designs and quality of construction. The Umarex S&W M&P 45 is the lightweight of the trio, literally in carry weight, and in price. Interestingly, though all three have rifled steel barrels, the M&P is the only one with a correct muzzle opening (.45 ACP) and a recessed 3.3 inch .177 caliber barrel. Aside from a molded plastic slide, molded-in disassembly lever and magazine release, and loading CO2 in the grip rather than in a CO2 magazine like the CP99 and HK P30, the M&P is pretty much an equal to the German-made models when it comes to shooting and accuracy. It is a lot of air pistol for $80.

Its crunch time, time for the Umarex S&W M&P 45 to go head to head with the two higher-priced Umarex German-built models, the Walther CP99 and Heckler & Koch HK P30. It is a comparison of equals in terms of design and capabilities. All three CO2 models are based on centerfire, duty-size (law enforcement and military) use handguns, with the Walther and S&W being polymer frame pistols with striker-fired systems and the HK being a polymer frame pistol with a hammer-fired system. All three are individual design benchmarks as centerfire handguns, all among the first to utilize a polymer frame like Glock. Historically, H&K was the first, actually more than a decade before Glock’s G17 in 1982, then Walther in 1999, and S&W with the M&P (Military & Police) series beginning in 2006 (2007 for the .45 ACP model). There are of course, other gunmakers who have moved to polymer frames, like Sig Sauer, but these three are our topic. read more